Friday, January 05, 2007

Call of the wild

Although constrained by an exceedingly suburban setting and enclosed by a white picket fence, my mother’s garden included a variety of wildflowers. Some of these she selected for personal reasons: a line of bouncing bet (Saponaria officinalis) reminded her of how she teased her older sister, Betty, when they would see that plant growing wild near the New Jersey shore.

Long afternoons spent by the Chesapeake Bay while my father was busy with YMCA camp meetings were commemorated with a few wild columbines (Aquilegia canadensis) transplanted from the sandy woodlands. A little Maryland boosterism may have been the reason for the black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta), which I remember her stopping the car in order to uproot from the roadside.

(Yes, those were very different plant collecting days back then!) Reasons for other wildflowers in her garden--woodland phlox, purple loosestrife (sterile, of course), evening primrose--elude me. These native plants were on their good behavior in my mother’s garden—they exuded strong presence, bloomed heavily, and rarely strayed. I’ve been thinking that these natives might just have something there. Okay, not the purple loosestrife, but a clump of evening primrose may be in my future.

No comments: